According to long-time digital marketing pioneer Richard Gorman, the basics of “white hat” SEO are more or less agreed upon. It is true, to an extent, that search engine optimization is ever-changing, and that as technology evolves and search engines mature, SEO professionals are forced to adapt with the times. With that said, the basic precepts of above-board SEO remain fairly consistent: Compelling content, paired with Google-approved optimization tactics, tend to yield positive search engine rankings.
Something else that remains consistent across the board: The need for high-end SEO tools—some of which are well-known, others well-kept secrets. Enter CIO, which recently assembled a panel of seasoned SEO professionals, who voiced their thoughts on the top tools currently available to search engine pros. Their picks were published in a recent CIO report, and that report has won the attention of Richard Gorman, who weighs in here with some of his own feedback, and his picks for 2013’s top SEO resources.
SEO Tools from Google
The CIO article begins with a rundown of tools that are actually provided by Google itself—a prudent decision, says Richard Gorman. “White hat SEO professionals understand that nobody knows how the Google search algorithms work better than the Google development team,” he opines. “As such, those search engine pros who want to rank content and avoid penalties are shrewd to play by Google’s rules, and to use the tools that Google provides us.”
A few of Gorman’s favorite Google-approved SEO implements include:
- Google AdWords Keyword Tool. This resource is really tailored for those running paid ads on Google pages and within Gmail, but it is helpful for any SEO professional doing keyword research. The Adwords Tool will provide some insight into the competitiveness of a given keyword, and it will also offer some insight into related keywords. “SEO begins with research, and research begins with this Keyword Tool,” notes Gorman.
- Google Analytics. While premium analytic tools are plentiful, Gorman says many SEO pros rely on the tried-and-true Google model. This is an invaluable asset because it provides data on which pages are gaining or losing traffic; other analytic programs have bells and whistles, but this one has everything an SEO pro could need.
- Google Suggest. Also called “Autocomplete,” the Google menu bar that offers suggested search terms, based on your own queries, is a great and easy tool for generating some keyword or topic ideas.
A Word About Webmaster Tools
Richard Gorman goes on to note that the CIO article is bullish on Google Webmaster Tools—and for good reason, he says. “This free toolset is essential for anyone who wants to produce effective online content—period,” he explains. “For diagnosing problems and making course corrections, this toolset is close to unbeatable.”
However, there is one Webmaster Tools feature that does beat it, Richard Gorman continues—and that is Bing’s Webmaster Tools variant. “My concern is that too many SEO professionals focus so much on Google that they neglect Bing,” he explains, also noting that Bing represents a not-insignificant 25 percent of the search engine market share. “Search optimization professionals should assess their content with Bing’s tools, as well—because while Bing may be second-fiddle to Google, the Webmaster Tools are actually more expansive and more useful on Microsoft’s search engine!”
The Importance of Content Creation
Richard Gorman goes on to note that content creation is a crucial component in any SEO initiative—and that the CIO article clearly recognizes this, highlighting a number of critical content creation tools. Gorman points to two of these tools are imperative for SEOs.
One of the CIO recommendations is Quora, a question-and-answer resource with burgeoning popularity. “The article is right on when it notes that Quora is invaluable for brainstorming content ideas,” offers Gorman. “When I’m seeking new ideas for blog posts, I turn to Quora all the time for inspiration.”
CIO also praises the popular blogging and content management system WordPress.org. “Everyone knows about WordPress.org, and there is a reason for it—it is simply best-in-class technology,” says Gorman. “What makes it appealing to SEO pros is not just that it is fairly easy to manage, but that there are some useful SEO plugins available for it.”
The direct response marketing pioneer goes on to highlight a final section of the CIO report—a list of SEO and analytic tools that come from third-party developers, but nevertheless offer Google success. “These are not tools developed in-house at Google, but they do help SEOs develop ranking success, all while playing along with Google’s policies and restrictions,” says Richard Gorman.
A few of Gorman’s selections are as follows:
- Copyscape. This Web-based tool allows users to check for plagiarism, which Gorman says is useful for curbing duplicate content. “If you are paraphrasing an article or reporting a news story, it is easy and natural to word your article in a way that too closely mirrors the article you’re drawing information from,” he notes. “Copyscape can help curb those tendencies and avoid penalties for content duplication.”
- Browseo. A tool that draws its name from the words “browser” and “SEO,” this resource is helpful for analyzing a page’s structure and spotting areas where further optimization is possible. Gorman calls it “a boon to SEOs who want to cover all of their bases and take advantage of every optimization opportunity.”
- SpyFu. Gorman concludes by pointing to this keyword research and tracking tool, which he says he uses to gain a competitive edge over other SEO developers.
SEO Done Right
“The bottom line is that no matter how much skill or cunning you have, your SEO endeavors will only succeed if you have the right tools at your disposal,” concludes Richard Gorman. He goes on by praising the CIO article. “There are many SEO resources available, but this article has done a stellar job of summarizing the real essentials.”
Richard Gorman is a direct response marketing pioneer, and a long-time SEO enthusiast.